A little over a year has passed since Kong (2021) joined the S.H.MonsterArts line up. In Japan, both it and Godzilla were sold out during the preorder phase. In the west, it sold out shortly after preorders were shipped. Having surpassed sales expectations, a reissue was released thereafter. A few months later after that, surprise! Kong returns in the form as an Event Exclusive that will be made available through select events throughout the year. Introducing S.H.MonsterArts Kong (2021) Exclusive Edition! This version released in the US on July 21, 2022 as an exclusive to SDCC 2022 for $90 MSRP. That means only attendees of SDCC 2022 are the only ones able to pick it up (for now--more on that later). It’s also bundled with cool new extras and even has some modifications to the existing sculpt. But is that enough to entice collectors to add another Kong figure to their collections? Especially given that it’s only been a little over a year since the OG’s release and several months since the Reissue’s release?

 

Before we get into the review of the figure lets talk about how to obtain it. Unlike previous events where all you had to do was show up and stand in line to get your exclusive, Tamashii Nations & Bandai Nacmo Collectibles are implementing a reservation ticketing system, a “Purchase Ticket” for attendees. Several reasons for this include keeping massive lines from forming in a crowded space during the time of an ongoing pandemic and to cut down on mass reselling of exclusives. Here’s what you need to know:

 

  • Acquire a Purchase Ticket* at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina Terrace.
    • *An active SDCC badge is required to receive a purchase ticket.
  • Check your Purchase Ticket as it has a designated time slot when Kong is available to purchase.
  • At the designated time, head into the convention center to TAMASHII NATIONS Booth #3329 where you can make your purchase.

 

There are somethings to bear in mind however:

 

  • Each item is limited to 2pcs per customer.
  • It is possible to purchase without obtaining a Purchase Ticket, however there’s no guarantee items will be available and a line will be expected. 2pcs per customer. An active SDCC badge is still required for exclusives whether you have a purchase ticket or not as quantity limit is tied to your badge.
  • Even with the Purchase Ticket there might be a line to purchase.
  • There are limited amounts of purchase tickets per day.
  • Items are only available at the designated day and time. However, if you have multiple tickets with different time slots, they can be submitted together.
  • No Reselling purchase ticket itself. Items are limited to 2pcs and acquiring multiple purchase tickets is not possible.
  • Unclaimed purchase tickets will become invalid after 4:00pm on 7/21~7/23.
  • Unclaimed purchase tickets will become invalid after 1:00pm on 7/24

 

For more information please visit: www.tamashiinations.com

 

Now let’s dive into the review!

 

UPDATE

 

Not attending SDCC this year? You can now preorder Kong (2021) Exclusive Edition from the USA Premium Bandai Shop for a March 2023 release.

 

 

Design:

 

This version of Kong is a representation of what’s seen in the final battle between Godzilla, Kong, and Mechagodzilla. Kong’s fur is rendered to have the coloration of machine oil & debris and wounds from the second battle with Godzilla. A common criticism of the first release is that Kong was too stylized when compared to its movie counterpart. This release doesn’t aim to address those criticisms and utilizes the same design from the first release. But there is definitely some minor retooling here that sets this release apart from the original.

 

 

This new version of Kong ships with a newly sculpted head featuring a clenched face. It represents various moments seen in the film, but I believe the moment they’re going for was one that was commonly featured in trailers, after Kong has been revived and ready’s himself for the final battle. The new head piece is a welcomed addition since the first release only came with two standard expressions. The community has since voiced that they would have preferred more heads that offer varying expressions since the mouth isn’t articulated. While it’s the only new head addition, it’s better than nothing. The expression is good here, but there’s something about the eye and brow placement that’s a little off to me. I feel it would look better if Kong had a furrowed brow. As it is, it sort of looks like the eyes are wide-open. It’s like when you try to smile for the camera, but your anxiety kicks in because you realized you forgot something very important. Still, it’s a look that is very fitting for this release. Kong also comes with the previous head pieces packaged in the original release, one somber look and one opened mouth. Like the original release, the detailing is similar. The eyes are sculpted on a separate piece allowing for a life-like look. The neck area has nice detailing and is unchanged from the original release.

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, the body sculpt has seen some retooling. The chest now features deep scratches from Kong’s confrontation with Godzilla in Hong Kong. The detailing on this is very well done as it looks like the flesh has been torn at the edges instead of being a lazy stencil job. The scratches may not entirely be accurate to what’s seen on screen, but they look damn good. The original scratch marks from the first release are still there, albeit not as prominent as the deep cuts. The parts beyond the cuts, are very smooth and blends the fur texture between the arms and midsection figure very well. On the backside of Kong, the fur is rendered in incredible detail. The arms are very muscular and well defined. There are a lot of cuts for articulation on the arms which may be off putting for those who want more of a solid sculpt. Out of the box, Kong has closed fists. Each finger is meticulously crafted with extra details on the knuckle areas—smoother in detail like the face area. This version of Kong also comes with new pairs of hands, and some returning from the first release. Each of these hands are just as detailed as the previous ones. More about the alternate hands in the accessories later.

 

 

There are no updates to waist area, but it’s still done well. Same goes for Kong’s backside, maintaining definition for the glutes. Like the arms, the legs are muscular and covered in fur details. Articulation engineering breaks up the sculpt a little but not too bad. The feet have fur on the tops and smooth on the palms, just like a real ape. Very well done. Overall, the sculpt is very well done and the retooling adds that extra wow factor that maybe the first release was missing. Though this version of Kong is more or less a battle-damaged version, I prefer it over the first release. That being said, I do feel it’s another missed opportunity to update the sculpt using the 3D digital data so that it looked 100% screen accurate, but I get why they stayed with the current design--for the sake of being cohesive with the first release. That’s just my preference though. The scale remains unchanged with this release, standing at 5.7 inches tall. In the end, the sculpt is absolutely outstanding for what it is.

 

 

Articulation:

 

I know a lot of you reading this are hoping that there were changes made to some of the articulation engineering. While my copy of the OG and Reissue had excellent joint tolerance, others weren’t so lucky reporting issues with arms and legs falling off frequently. My Exclusive Edition Kong doesn’t suffer any joint tolerance issues, in fact, I’d argue that the joints are too tight. Tight joints are an easy fix though as all you need is a dab of dawn dish soap or synthetic shock oil. If the legs are tight, this is something you’ll definitely want to do to prevent breakage. So, did they change anything beyond tolerance? Unfortunately, no. The articulation engineering is the exact same as the original release. Be careful when bending those legs.

 

Starting with the new head, it’s got about the same range as the original release. It can slightly tilt up and not so much down due to the sculpting. You can twist the head 360° as it sits on a ball joint. The alternate heads have the same range of movement. On the angry face, the tongue still has articulation. It sits on a ball joint so it can be lifted up and shifted slightly left to right, tweezers may be required. The neck has limited range and can tilt slightly up and down. It cannot twist or tilt left to right due to the sculpt.

 

 

The body articulation engineering is as expected and is unchanged from the original release. The torso consists of three points of articulation. The upper chest can be tilted upward and downward slightly as well as twisting left to right. The midsection is a floating piece and can be positioned to accommodate posing of the upper and lower abdomen areas. It helps with performing a slight ab crunch as well as bending backward so that Kong can beat his chest. There can be an unsightly gap under the arms depending on how you pose Kong. The gap can be closed with some creative posing of the arm and floating midsection piece. The waist area connects via ball joint to the crotch piece which is not articulated. This piece is glued into the sculpt. It can tilt upward and downward but cannot twist left to right! This is important to know: when moving Kong’s upper body be sure to move it by the chest and midsection only as moving the hip area may lead to breakage.

 

 

Arm articulation remains unchanged. They’re very solid and tight and have a great range of movement. There are no gaps in just about any pose. Both arms consist of 5 points of articulation. The elbows can bend quite well and the arms can be positioned to where Kong can go in for a winding punch to a right hook. He can even pound his chest in victory! The shoulders aren’t attached to the main body and have good range of movement allowing for some rotation. The arms also can be posed in a walking position on all fours. The arms can be positioned over the shoulders as well for poses that show off Kong holding the Battle Axe over his head or raising a fist. The wrists have excellent movement and depending on which hand piece you use; some pieces have better range than others. I’m thoroughly impressed with the range of movement in this figure. And yes, he can still scratch his ass!

 

 

As with the original release, do be careful while moving Kong’s legs. The hinged slider joint at the hip is thin and will break if stressed. To prevent this from happening always move Kong’s legs the thigh area, and only move this area up and down as it only tilts those directions. Surprisingly, this doesn’t limit the articulation of the legs as the thigh is connected via ball joint and can be rotated freely in any direction. Kong’s legs can be posed in a high kick position or bent so that he’s kneeling on the ground, or even into a curled-up ball! The range of motion is absolutely fantastic. Each leg has 6 points of articulation. The articulation cuts are visible and can break up the sculpt, however, it isn’t a deal breaker. The feet have one point of articulation allowing for the front part to tilt upward and downward. The ankles can be rotated 360° accommodate Kong’s various standing positions.

 

 

Overall, the articulation still works as seen with the original release. Everything has good range of movement while hiding most gaps. The alternate accessories add more expression and fun while posing the figure. I just wished they had taken the chance to update the hip area, but that’s just me. If you own the original release, you’ll know what to expect with this one.

 

Paint:

 

This version of Kong has received a major update when it comes to paint application. As I mentioned earlier, this figure is a representation of the final battle, so Kong’s fur is now dark brown in color with a combination of white highlighting and shading on its fur details. Though the sculpting of the fur hasn’t been changed, the darker paint application is a welcomed addition to set it apart from the original release. What’s more is that this version of Kong has additional splotches of red throughout the figure to represent wounds and blood, a fantastic addition! It’s a little dark in some areas like the face, but noticeable in the right lighting conditions. Upon further inspection with my macro lens, the blood is painted digitally, similarly to the eyes. You can’t see this with the naked eye but it’s a neat little trick they pulled here. And if you thought the original figure was glossy, wow, this figure ramps up the gloss factor as it’s supposed to look like wet fur from the oil after decapitating Mechagodzilla’s head. The glossiest part is the chest and the face.

 

The new head has some great dry brushing effects applied to the fur with dark browns to accentuate the details. However, the face and fur are practically the same color now, so the blending is fairly natural, but I feel a lot of Kong’s face is harder to see with this release. Spots of blood are painted on the brow and sides of each head piece. The eyes are painted well thanks to being painted on a separate piece before inserting into the sculpt. My figure has aligned eyes on all headpieces. The paint on the teeth looks great with no blobs of excess paint present. The inner mouth of the angry head is essentially the same as the original.

 

 

The main body, arms, and legs are fairly consistent and use the same dark brown coloration. Dry brushed highlights are present on various parts like the arms, backside, and legs. Like the face, the chest, hands, and feet are a darker paint with a glossy finish. The deep scratches are painted a blood red with no overspray. It’s beautifully done. The previous scratches are faded, but still present. Kong’s backside has more shading this time around, and the presence of painted wounds helps what would be a blanket of fur look a little interesting. Sadly, no singed mark is present considering this figure is a representation after Kong and Godzilla’s battle in Hong Kong. I’m sure some creative artists may try their hands at recreating it, but then again, this is a limited exclusive…

 

 

Overall, I think the paint is a fantastic improvement over the first release. I appreciate the darker color scheme and the battle damage paint job enhances it a little. There is no paint slop or overspray and the blending is consistent throughout parts of the figure. I think the only way it could have been better is that instead of painting red blood spots over the fur, they could have gone the extra mile and take chunks out of the sculpt where the blood was painted. Some would call this lazy, but I think it’s well done still. I would have liked it if the blood and face paint were a little brighter, more vibrant, as well.

 

Accessories:

 

This version of Kong comes with some of the same accessories as the original release, some of which have been updated with new paint, and new and exclusive pieces dedicated to this special edition! It’s also missing some of the extras from the original release. That means to have a complete Kong package, you need to own both the original and the exclusive edition. Kong’s extras include the heads of the original release, somber and angry. It also comes with four alternate sets of hands (7 in total – 4 right & 3 left): griped hands for the Battle Axe, hands that are set for grappling, hands to hold the Mechagodzilla head, and one hand with the pointer finger stretched. It does not come with the walking knuckle hands seen in the original release. The battle axe has been updated with a new paint application to match with a snap on effect piece. Other new additions include 3 monochrome HEAV aircraft with articulated engines and a dedicated wire display and the decapitated Mechagodzilla head! That’s a lot of extras for this day and age!

 

 

All of these accessories are sculpted very well and the alternate hands pop on and off the figure quite easily. To get the Battle Axe into Kong’s griped hands, I recommend heating up the fingers with a hairdryer to prevent possible breakage. The hand with the pointer finger stretched is a reference to when Kong reached out to Gia on the boat. It can also be used for comical or thoughtful poses; I detect meme fodder here... Interestingly they only included one hand for this one. The new grappling hands are awesome. These were definitely something the original release was missing and they add so much more poseability for the figure. These are definitely my favorite. The instruction manual indicates that only a designated right hand piece is used to hold Mechagodzilla’s head and it specifically warns of paint rubbing off. Thankfully Mechagodzilla’s head fits quite easily, so there’s not need to force it on or off. I did try it with the left hand and it does seem to work. Though I imagine that this hand isn’t necessarily built for it and more designed to grip something like a building or dorsal spine.

 

 

The Battle Axe uses the same sculpt as the original release, rendered in great detail with the bone handle being smooth with fine detailing. What looks like a Godzilla’s hide is wrapped around the axe—very detailed. The paint has been overhauled as it is meant to match the effect piece that represents its supercharged form. I actually really like the paint application on this battle axe over the original release. While there’s no shading, the blending of the whites and blues is fantastic. The effect piece attaches to the battle axe like a snap together puzzle. The instructions are helpful during the first-time setup, please read them first before assembling. Pay attention to the plugs and you’ll have no issues. The effect piece itself if gorgeous and doesn’t take up any additional space on the shelf like a heat ray would. It being translucent is a bonus and depending on your lighting situation can enhance the effect piece. It’s really cool.

 

 

The HEAV aircraft a fun little addition. The engines rotate 360 degrees, so go nuts with whatever direction you want them to go. The HEAV are also unpainted, but the monochromatic color they chose isn’t at all far from the source. You can always paint additional details if you would like. I myself plan to add some weathering effects. The display stand is a love/hate sort of relationship. I love that it’s compact and that the wires are encased, allowing for free movement while posing each HEAV. What I don’t like is that this stand has no weight to it, so posing 3 HEAV in positions that don’t distribute the weight accordingly will cause the stand to fall over. Some Bluetack puddy or adding some sort of small weight to the stand will suffice prevent this from happening.

 

 

Mechagodzilla’s head! This is an awesome extra to have. It is articulated at the head and neck area using one ball joint. They also added the proton canon in its mouth, unfortunately, the mouth doesn’t open or close and they even went a step further to add additional sculpting to prevent it from doing so. That being said, after inspecting the head it looks like if you are crafty enough you could mod it to open and close as it looks like there’s some articulation there... The question is, do you want to do that on an exclusive like this? The head and neck piece are very well detailed and in the same scale as the Mechagodzilla (2021) figure. In fact, the head can be swapped with the Mechagodzilla figures, however you’ll need something like Bluetack puddy to hold it place. Despite having the exact socket as the main figure, the mouth is opened to wide and that prevents it from naturally popping onto the ball joint. Kind of a weird oversight in my opinion but at least Bluetack puddy solves this issue. I guess we’ll have to wait for a Special Color Version... This is a Kong accessory after all.

 

Overall, these are some fantastic accessories and allow for some incredible poses and re-creations of fan favorite moments from the movie. I know some of you may be saying, this is what the figure should have come with in the first place. I agree. The more extras the better. However, some accessories like the HEAV aircraft and Mechagodzilla would not have been included due to spoilers.

 

Overall:

 

This version of Kong is the total package. The amount of expression this figure is capable of, the new battle damage aesthetic, darker paint applications, and with the inclusion of an abundant of accessories, it’s definitely worth adding to your collection… If you are able to get it. This is an EVENT EXCLUSIVE and will be made available globally at select events, so if you aren’t able to attend one try for the next. At the time of this writing, online sales are not an option during SDCC 2022. Depending on what’s left, an announcement may or may not be made for online sales. Just hold off from paying those aftermarket prices. Until then, check out the showcase gallery for more poseabiltiy options.

 

If you need more information on how to obtain Kong at SDCC 2022, visit www.tamashiinations.com.

 

"The Articulation Series" is independent of Bandai Tamashii Nations & Bandai Namco Collectibles. Though independent, "The Articulation Series" has a working relationship with these entities covering S.H.MonsterArts related news & media and is a source for exclusive and general information.


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